Monday, July 18, 2011

The Privilege to Work

My Mom jokes that she had six children because she thought they'd be the hired help she always dreamed of. We weren't quite the merry maids she longed for... but she stayed on us.

And I'm so glad. Despite our share of gripes and groans, we learned how to work.

We took turns mowing the lawn. We weeded. We canned cherries, picked beans, helped her make tomato sauce. We cleaned bathrooms, vacuumed, did our own laundry, made our own lunches, and my favorite daily chore (for as long as I can remember) was emptying the dishwasher. Sometimes I would time myself. I got pretty fast at grabbing plates by the handful, sliding cups into each other, and snagging as many forks or knives as I could in one swipe. (Confession: I did break a plate or two.)

Together, my parents helped us understand that we were part of a family and that meant we had responsibilities. They helped us see that we were happier when we worked for things.


David O. McKay said, "The privilege to work is a gift... the power to work is a blessing, [and] love of work is success."

I am learning with my own children that work is only fun when they succeed.

Modifying (as needed) and helping my kids feel like they are doing their tasks well, is key.

So with the girls getting old enough this summer to handle daily chores (like cleaning their room, making their bed, and other do-able tasks), I started looking for chore charts. I didn't want to print something new every week. I didn't want to deal with markers or stickers. I wanted something simple. And I wanted it to be able to change as our family changed.

I looked for a while.


Finally, I found these magnet boards on Etsy @ Abbie's House. We've been using them since the first of June. And nearly two months into it, I can honestly say, they work. I love them. And my girls love them too. Each day they have their basic chores, plus two extra jobs that I rotate.


Each board comes with ten tiles, but you can custom select other tiles in packages of five, depending on your children's jobs or interests, and your household needs. Andrea @ Abbie's House was fabulous to work with, printing names and tying ribbons just how I requested.

I know some of you can make these yourself. Boy, do I pine for the crafty talent now and then, but it doesn't come naturally to me. So I've settled on the fact that if I want something cute, I have to pay someone else to make it.

Now. See the picture above? That's how our charts look at 8 AM when everyone is waking up.


This is how they look around... oh... 10:30 AM. Sometimes 11. Yes, three hours later, the girls eventually finish up their morning "to do" list. (I promise the charts really do work. We're just slow on the learning curve and a little distracted around here.)

Some days it feels like I have forty jobs - their ten each and my own. But they're still young, still figuring things out (and so am I). With a little motivation like a slurpee or a new package of crayons they can get their groove on.


At this point we haven't developed a consistent reward system. Or family financial system. The girls do extra jobs to earn money, which I keep in a log with the item(s) they are wanting to buy for themselves. They pay tithing to our church on everything they earn. And as they get a bit older we will help them understand savings and interest with a family money system.


(They're currently at the neighbors' house running a lemonade stand. Not a whole lot of work, but good practice with money.)

For now, I want my kids to learn there are jobs they do every day because they are simply part of our family. They don't get paid for them. It's just part of life. A good part. Because work moves us outside ourselves, makes us feel successful, gives us skills and confidence.

"Children devoid of responsibilities risk never learning that every individual can be of service and that life has meaning beyond their own happiness." - David H. Burton

This morning, it took three pieces of licorice to finally move their feet along and we finished up at 11:01. But believe it or not, we're making progress.

And one more thing. Our girls are loving these summer workbooks.


You can find them here.

Do you have a family money system or reward system? How are summer chores going at your house?


  1. Those magnet boards are just darling. So glad they're working well for you this summer. I love the bedspread on Eliza's bed. Eliza's one of my very favorite girl names by the way.

    One of the greatest gifts my mother-in-law gave me was teaching her son how to work hard. The hard tasks he was taught to do at home has helped him focus and excel in his office job as well as in the honey-do stuff at home. He has really helped me catch a vision for teaching hard work to our kids (I am not a naturally organized person and hate cracking the whip...the figurative one of course:). Although my oldest has claimed at times that we have "violated child labor laws" around here, we keep pressing on and requiring hard things of them. I read recently a quote by a grandma that the hardest work you do with older children is teaching THEM how to work...putting up with the complaining, explaining and teaching, and following through and making sure things get done. I can really see wisdom in that. It is a lot of work for parents to plow through all the bad attitudes that erupt when it's chore time. But, it's worth it. I have to remind myself of that when I just want to throw up my hands and say, "it's just easier if I do this myself" when the complaining begins. It's worth it to let my younger boys roll the dough for pizza and spread the cheese and pepperoni....even though it takes twice as long and makes double the mess.

    I hope you have a lovely week and some moments of true rejuvenation. xoxo

    Anne Marie (not letting me post with my google account at the moment)

  2. Anne Marie - Ah yes, definitely a gift to have a husband who learned how to work hard. Doug is a better house-keeper than I am. I've learned a lot from him. His mom (and dad) taught him well. As for teaching our kids, "even though it takes twice as long and makes double the mess" - you're so right. It's worth it to watch them struggle a bit, do something hard, despite the mess. I love your perspective. Always healthy, always wise. A happy week to you too!

  3. I'm totally getting those magnet-board thingies. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Love those boards. We are always making charts with stickers, but then we forget. I need to make my kids work like you all did. I remember having chores but it seemed like you guys did more than we ever did. Ronda was a pro and getting work out of you guys. I am impressed. I need to know her secret!

  5. Brod - she can do boy colors ;) - they really have worked well.

    Michelle - So we weren't the only ones that thought we were working harder than all the kids in the neighborhood? ;) Somehow, Ronda got us to do it. I should pick her brain a bit more, huh? love you meesh.

  6. I'm interested as to what your heart and star represent? Also now that it's been a year or so is this system still working for y'all? I would love to know what you do to keep them "moving". I linked here from power of moms I think, and love this chart idea. Its simple and fun for kids! Thanks for posting.

    1. Krista - The heart represents an act of kindness or service. The star has changed according to our needs. Right now I'm using it for our summer writing/workbook goals. The charts have been awesome. I just rotate the magnets for daily jobs. The kids seem motivated by them. I don't have to print anything, worry about stickers or the like. They are simple and fun. I've LOVED them!


Related Posts with Thumbnails